Isle of Mull driver Craig Rutherford clinched the Scottish Junior Rally Championship thanks to a late turn of speed on Saturday’s Merrick Forest Stages rally. Craig overcame a slow start to take maximum junior points, sealing the under-23 title with one round to spare – and there could be more silverware to come before the season is out.
Saturday’s Wigtown-based Ian Broll Merrick Forest Stages marked the latest chapter in Rutherford’s rallying adventure. The 22 year-old from Fionnphort was once again competing in his Honda Civic Type R, with fellow youngster Ross Hynd from Ayr co-driving. Craig and Ross emerged from the Galloway forests with a timecard that guaranteed them the SRC junior prize and put them in prime position for several other honours.
Despite a slow start in the drizzle, Rutherford and Hynd were able to get their act together on the famous Glentrool stage, a single test that made up nearly half of the rally’s distance. The Honda crew then maintained their pace to overhaul main rival Lachlan Cowan – pipping the Fifer to the class win on the last stage of the day.
The result – first in class and seventeenth overall – means Craig just has to finish the last round of the Scottish Rally Championship in order to add the series Class 7 title to his Scottish Junior prize. The Honda Civic Type R Challenge trophy from the Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge is already in the bag.
“It was very important to win the class and get a maximum junior score, and we did just that,” explains company director Rutherford. “The start was terrible, nothing seemed to click, but our performance in the afternoon made the day for us really.”
Despite his success, due to a bizarre accident Craig will spend this week replacing the windscreen on the rally car. “There was me thinking we’d done so well to get round without damaging the car, then Ross goes and puts his backside through the windscreen when we’re celebrating with the champagne!” continues the PMG Services and Fidden Campsite-backed driver. “But seeing as he did such a good job of keeping me on the road and at speed, I think we can let him off with it!”
Craig Rutherford’s next rally will be the Colin McRae Forest Stages in Perthshire on Saturday 6 October. If all goes well and a budget can be pulled together, a home run on the Tunnock’s Mull Rally could follow.